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A Third of UK Broadband Users Don’t Get their Estimated Speeds

Monday, November 23rd, 2015 (1:24 am) - Score 729

The latest survey of 1,242 ISPreview.co.uk readers has revealed that the vast majority of respondents do know the estimated speed of their broadband Internet connection, yet 34.2% still claim not to be receiving what they’ve been promised.

Happily the vast majority of respondents do at least keep an eye on their Internet performance by conducting regular connection speedtests, with most viewing such testing as being either “very important” (49.3%) or of “average importance” (41.1%) to the monitoring of their connection (just 9.5% felt that it was “not important“).

Do you know the ISPs estimated speed of your Internet connection?
Yes – 91.1%
No – 8.8%

Does your ISP deliver close to or more than the estimated speed for your line?
Yes – 59.9%
No – 34.2%
Don’t know – 5.7%

On average, how often do you run a speedtest (pick closest)?
Once a Week – 35.8%
Once a Month – 31.5%
Once a Day – 17.8%
Very rarely / Never – 14.7%

How important is speed testing to you?
Very Important – 49.3%
Average Importance – 41.1%
Not Important – 9.5%

The ability to understand the real-world performance of your broadband connection is useful for both helping to spot faults and or identifying whether or not your ISP is delivering the promised performance.

The Government also gauge the progress of their national Broadband Delivery UK programme by using some of the same fixed line performance estimates as ISPs, which today’s results suggest may not always be reliable and that could impact the perception of their “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) targets.

Mind you speedtests don’t always give consumers the full picture and sometimes the problems can be due to issues that exist beyond an ISPs ability to control. For example, a slow local WiFi connection or poor home wiring might be just as easy to blame for speed woes as a general network fault on the underlying infrastructure.

Whatever the cause, if you do spot a persistent and noticeable loss of speed then let your ISP know as soon as possible. Ofcom requires ISPs to resolve significant losses of speed and if they can’t then you can often switch provider without penalty, although this may not always solve the problem.

Meanwhile this month’s new survey asks whether the quality of your ISP has improved or not over the past year and in which areas? Vote Here.

Leave a Comment
12 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreFred says:

    Your survey asks about estimated speeds and the article says promised? 🙂

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Estimates are what most of the ISPs promise, few get specifics 😉 .

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Well I do remember getting an estimate but no promise of getting the estimate which in itself would be odd , like a taxi driver estimating he will be with you in 30mins that’s a promise!

  2. Avatar Paper Boy says:

    Well – when I ordered, I was estimated to get 50-68Mbps by the BTOpenreach predictor (based on my ADSL2+ speed and calculated distance to the exchange “by wire” I knew it would be low end of that).

    Turned out to be 38. Reason: despite being 350m crowfly & 386m “by road” to the exchange by the sensible route, my line is 1.5km long – which Openreach helpfully shortened by a maximum of 75m when they “upgraded me to fibre”.

    Why doesn’t my line go the direct way? Because there is 5m of missing duct between two streets. ARRRGGGHHHH!

  3. Avatar Steve Jones says:

    Using self selecting sample groups are notoriously not accurate as a way of reflecting typical experience. Such things should be headlined as survey respondents, not as UK broadband users overall.

    Conducting proper surveys is an expensive and difficult process at the best of times (witness the polls for the last general election), so it’s important not to overstate what these surveys are actually saying.

    That’s not because I necessarily think that people are getting what the estimates might show (after all, I suspect many – possibly most – don’t optimise their phone wiring systems for xDSL or are constrained by WiFi issues), but I think it needs a much more carefully controlled exercise to find the real position.

    Of course BT and the LLU ISPs all do know the actual sync speeds achieved vs the estimates, so more accurate information is out there albeit complicated by internal wiring. Whilst sync speed won’t show actual download (which can be constrained by congestion, WiFi etc.) it does provide the baseline. It would be interesting if Ofcom compelled all the ISPs to publish comprehensive stats about estimates vs actual sync speeds.

    1. Avatar dragoneast says:

      We have to realise that this sort of commentary is a (very small) minority interest. Broadband, like most things, is a compromise to get what we can out of something we want to pay as little as possible for. Every suggestion on these forums is trying to get other people to pay for what they won’t.

      If you want stats then use Routerstats, unlock the OR modem or buy an enhanced router/modem that supplies them, or pay SamKnows or A&A/Altnet prices. I’ve done it. Am I better off for it? No.

      If people can make do with, or do what they want out of, their connection, then there is absolutely no reason why they should be concerned with all this, no matter what any interfering busybody says. And that speaks (perhaps sadly, in our eyes) for the vast majority. The fretting few of us are the problem, not the majority.

  4. Avatar PeterM says:

    The big problem with estimated speeds is the way they change over a period of time, especially with new cabinets.
    My line for example started with an BT Wholesale estimate of a top speed expected of 10-13Mbps on a new cabinet it has now dropped to 4-5Mbps.
    Variations like this are outside the control of the ISP and just show how pointless it is giving any sort of prediction in the first place.

    1. Avatar gerarda says:

      If my line is anything to go by BT wholesale just reduce the estimated line speed to reflect the actual.

  5. Avatar Optimist says:

    Does it not depend on contention for network resources? You might as well ask car drivers whether they manage to cruise at 70mph along motorways at peak times.

    1. Avatar Ignition says:

      Tad easier to upgrade a data network than to widen a motorway.

  6. Avatar DTMark says:

    Think Broadband produces lots of lovely tables showing wonderful data but I don’t see where they get their line length and quality data from.

    The line here is estimated to be between about 17 and 36 Mbps. That is no estimate at all. There is no information to make a purchasing decision. How fast would it be? Faster then 3G? Might be. Faster then 4G? No. But then nobody knows.

    ISPs ignore the top end figure as they don’t trust it. Think Broadband reckons “over 30Mbps” for this location which seems surprising given a line length of 1.3km. Shorter lines aren’t even getting anything like that. The cabling is ancient.

    But then the straight line distance is more like 800m. Those discrepancies together with naff ancient line plant issues stand to drive a coach-and-horses through the accuracy of the estimates.

    And then finally I wonder what the local authorities use to gauge the success of their projects. The over optimistic top end BT figures, the necessarily vague and possibly wildly inaccurate Think Broadband data, or the lower end BT data – pick any one of those.

    And which one is BT committed to deliver? Er, none of them. Except, it is. It’s committed to deliver 90% at 24Mbps+. So the measurement is important to determine the quantity of line plant rectification work to be done before local authorities make final payments and declare projects complete.

  7. Avatar cyclope says:

    Most if not ISP’s will as said use the lower figure usually of the Clean range,
    Which in my case is incorrect as i have always had the full sync 80/20 So BT end up with a free cop out if needed, My problem is that too much credit is given to these estimates as they are being used as a tool,often to deny end users have a sync speed issue,and refuse to investigate them, An estimate is no more than a guess and should be treated as such and nothing more

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